I just have to say that I am incredibly proud of these mini pretzel dogs. Aren’t they beautiful? They are little jewels of deliciousness that I have to admit are maybe one of my proudest achievements. I made them for our small Oscar gathering a couple of week ago, and one of my friends, mid-bite, declared them to be “like crack”. That is high praise, indeed. They weren’t even all that difficult to put together. The most time consuming part, honestly, was wrapping them up into their adorable little pretzels cocoons. Making the dough was simple, especially with the help of a stand mixer. You just need to knead everything until the dough is slightly tacky, let it rise for an hour or so, and that’s it – you’re ready to pretzel dog it up. I originally saw my inspiration for these babies on 2sisters2cities, who got their idea from Joy the Baker, so I knew immediately that I was in good hands. I have to give credit where credit is due – these two blogs really hit it out of the park. The key factor in pretzel making is a quick 30 second boil in a mixture of water and baking soda, which gives the pretzels their chewy, deep brown crust. That’s the difference between a bagel and a pretzel. Pretzels are boiled in baking soda (or lye, if you’re daring) and water, while bagels are boiled in a sugar solution. It’s a quick step that almost seems too small to even bother with, but trust me – you must do it. When you’ve made the dough, wrapped up the cheese-stuffed hot dogs, boiled them in a baking soda concoction, then popped them in the oven, you’ll probably have some leftover pretzel dough. This is the most fun part. I made some classic twisted pretzels, some tiny pretzel bites, and some long, twisted rope pretzels. You will probably come up with something more creative than I did, but Kramer and I really appreciated having something extra to snack on while we waited for guests to arrive. If you want to do these ahead of time, too, feel free – once they’ve baked through, let them cool and sit at room temperature on a baking sheet (I replaced the parchment paper so that they didn’t get soggy), then heat them back up for 10 minutes or so when your guests arrive.
Obviously these cheesy pretzels were the hit of the party, so go forth and make mini cheesy pretzel dogs – your friends will thank you, as will your own belly. I’ve kind of been on a bread baking roll, lately (haw haw haw). I made Irish Soda Bread (although that doesn’t have yeast so maybe it doesn’t really count), these pretzels (which do have yeast and a rising time, so I’m counting them), and I’ve got one or two more bread recipes to share with you in the coming weeks. I guess I know that hot summer temperatures are just around the corner, and baking bread in the middle of a New York summer is basically the worst thing any human being could do to themselves. I’ll have to try to squeeze in a few more bread experiments this weekend before I’m sweating it to the oldies on the subway with all of the other people who, during New York summers, collectively think, “Why in the hell do I even live here?” This weekend should be nice enough, though, so we’ll be out and about. Tonight, we have plans for drinks with a friend. I’m going to try to get her to join me for an oyster happy hour somewhere. I feel as though it’s been far too long since my last oyster expedition and what am I, an animal? Maybe after that we’ll check out Featherweight if it’s not too late/crowded. I love that place but it is tiny and becoming more popular, so if I can’t get a seat, I’m out.
On Saturday, we have plans to go and see my friend and co-worker who just had her baby a couple of weeks ago. I have honestly never held a baby. I hope she’s ready to see Sydney’s Struggle when she hands me her baby and I say “Uhhhhhh..” I wonder if Kramer has ever held a baby. I should probably ask. Anyway, since you can’t eat deli meat when you’re pregnant (what kind of punishment is that?), I’m going to bring over a couple of giant godfather sub sandwiches from Graham Avenue Meats, which I think is a fitting reward for having a child. After that, we’ve got another card night at our friend’s place. We’ll start with Cards Against Humanity, but I’m hoping I can get in a round of poker or two. My poker fingers are itching since I won a whopping $5 a few weeks ago. Now I am convinced that I am an excellent poker player – obviously I must be stopped and the best way to do that is to play against someone who I know is actually a good poker player. Or maybe I’ll have another streak of beginner’s luck. We’ll see. Have a lovely weekend, you crazy kids.
Prep your dough and prepare your mini hot dogs.
Once your dough has risen, cut it into 32 wedges.
Then wrap ’em up like mummies, pinching the ends so that they are sealed.
Boil the pretzel dogs in the baking soda and water mixture, then bake until golden brown.
Allow to cool a bit before handling.
And don’t forget to have some fun with your leftover dough!
Serve warm. You can make these ahead of time and then heat them back up later, too.
- 1½ cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoon)
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 14 cups water
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 package cocktail wieners (mine had about 30) or an 8 pack of hot dogs, cut into fourths for 32 hot dog pieces
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- Kosher salt
- 4 slices of American cheese, cut into eighths (American cheese melts beautifully, but if you must, you can use cheddar)
- In the bowl of your mixer, add your warm water and sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the the water and let it sit for 5 minutes, until foamy.
- Add in the flour, salt, and melted butter. Using your dough hook, mix on low until the dough is combined. Move the speed up to medium and mix the dough until it is smooth and easily pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead for an additional 4 minutes at medium speed. Alternatively, you can do this by hand with some good old fashioned elbow grease, although it will probably take about half an hour to get it to the same place that the mixer is able to. How badly do you want these pretzel dogs? The answer is probably a lot.
- Coat another large bowl with some olive oil or butter. Take dough ball from mixer bowl, scraping dough off the sides of the bowl if needed (although the dough shouldn't be too sticky) and place the dough in the oiled bowl. Turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set bowl in a warm place for 1 hour. I chose to put my bowl next to my oven that was on while it was baking something else. If you're not baking, you can put the dough in an OFF oven while it rises (please make sure your oven is not on if you do this).
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or grease well with butter (I really recommend using parchment).
- Once the dough has risen, turn out on a lightly oiled surface (I just rubbed my counter top with a teaspoon or so of olive oil). Divide dough evenly into 32 pieces. This is done easily if you divide dough in half and then divide each half into halves, continuing until there is 32 equal sized pieces. You will probably have leftover dough, but you can make fun pretzel shapes with it while the pretzel dogs bake. Take your hot dog pieces or cocktail wieners and slice them down the middle, lengthwise, being careful not to cut them all the way through. Stuff in a piece or two of American cheese and set aside, continuing until you have done this with all of your hot dogs.
- Take one dough ball and roll it out to a 12-inch piece rope. Take a hot dog piece and starting at the end of the hot dog, wrap the dough around the hot dog so that it is completely covered in dough (like a mummy). If there is too much dough at the end of the rope, you can just cut it off and set it aside to use later.
- Make sure to seal ends and where ever the dough is touching so that it stays connected and completely sealed during baking. I pinched the ends and patted them a bit to make sure that they were sealed. You may need to do this one more time before boiling - don't worry about ruining the rolled up look, because you can handle these pretty liberally before that will happen. Trust me. Continue until you've done this with all of your hot dogs.
- In a large pot add 14 cups of water and 1 cup of baking soda. Bring to a boil.
- Once the water comes to a boil, gently drop a few wrapped hot dogs into the pot and let cook for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and line up on baking sheet, leaving about one inch in between each. Repeat for all wrapped hot dogs.
- Take the egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water and gently brush boiled pretzels with the egg mixture, then sprinkle with salt.
- Bake the pretzels for about 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. If you have leftover pretzel dough, you can make some fun shapes, then boil and bake those, too. I made some ropes, some pretzel bites, and some classic twisted pretzels.